China's central partners in Europe

Updated: 2015-10-26 07:33

By Michael Clauss and Maurice Gourdault-Montagne(China Daily)

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China's central partners in Europe

A Syrian migrant holds his child at a temporary refugee camp in Gabcikovo, Slovakia, October 8, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

In a short while, the leaders of our two countries will visit China within days of each other. This occurrence could not have come at a better time. Germany and France have both been China's comprehensive strategic partners for many years. However, never before have our respective partnerships with China been more relevant to addressing global pressing issues. No other two countries coordinate their policies more closely than France and Germany in particular within the European Union.

France and Germany are convinced that the world has to gradually engage on the path of deep decarbonization.

In December, Paris will host the COP21 Conference, which will define the international framework of action to reconcile everyone's aspiration to prosperity with the natural limits of our planet. Our goal is to build a Paris Alliance for Climate enabling us to limit the planet's average temperature rise to less than 2oC above pre-industrial levels.

So far 149 countries, among them China, have presented their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). These contributions represent more than 87 percent of world GES emissions. Even if these efforts are probably not sufficient, they signal the determination to have a universal agreement adopted in Paris. However, it is clear that to win the battle against climate disruption, we all will have to gradually increase our level of ambition.

France and Germany are key players in the quest for solutions to several of the world's most dangerous crises.

The situation in Ukraine has brought confrontation with Russia and the very real risk of falling back into patterns of the Cold War. Germany and France are driving the discussions with Ukraine and Russia in the so-called Normandy format. We welcome China's support to find a political solution.

The disastrous civil war in Syria and the terrorist onslaught especially by ISIS on Syria and Iraq are a challenge to humankind as a whole. The advance of terrorism in the Middle East with its ensuing instability makes itself felt in Europe and Asia. We share common concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Syria. With a view to finding a political solution and to addressing the huge humanitarian crisis and its root causes we both encourage China to play an active and positive part.

China supports a strong and prosperous European Union, its first trading partner in the world. France and Germany acted in close coordination to find an acceptable outcome to the Greek crisis and to restore confidence in the Euro. For both our countries, the European unification process and the Euro are non-reversible.

Looking at the Chinese economy, we are confident that China continues to have enormous potential for growth, which will be unlocked in the coming years if China commits itself vigorously to further opening up and market-oriented reforms, including in the State sector. In this perspective, France and Germany fully support the negotiations towards an ambitious and truly comprehensive Sino-European bilateral agreement on investment.

China's success will depend crucially on technological upgrading. Germany and France combined probably are China's most important international partners in its modernization drive. Roughly 200 billion euros ($220 billion) in trade with China in 2014 marked a new record, almost four times as much as China's trade with any other EU country. We are leaders in sectors which are crucial to China's "Made in China 2025". Germany has its "industry 4.0." and France its "industry of the future", covering a wide range of key areas from next generation of transportation to the internet of things. And we do not only trade but build up manufacturing, research and development within China. Airbus for example has moved faster than any competitor to move manufacturing and development to China.

A growing number of Chinese are studying French or German and visit our countries, and vice versa. Almost 20,000 young French and German students are studying in China, holding the two top spots amongst EU nationals. This interest of the coming generation underlines: Our strategic partnerships with China are here to stay and will continue to flourish.

Michael Clauss is German ambassador to China, and Maurice Gourdault-Montagne is French ambassador to China.